Utilities/Communications: Four

Back in 2010, MediaWorks, like most media companies, was doing it pretty tough. But the financial storm was slowly abating and five-year econometric forecasting into New Zealand’s commercial TV market pointed to growth in audiences and television revenues, with the audience—and, so, the money—sitting with the key 18—54 year-old demographic.

Specifically, 80 percent of ad spend was expected to be delivered from the 25-54 and 18-49 audiences, while the youth TV market was expected to deliver just three percent of the total. So MediaWorks decided to grey up its audience, focus on the same demographics as TVNZ’s two major channels and optimise the commercial value of its mainstream offering TV3 and its youth channel C4, which had experienced several years of stagnant audience levels and undervalued advertising inventory. 

Of course, the TV market is a brutally competitive one. In TVNZ (and particularly TV2), MediaWorks had a very well organised and well-funded dominant competitor. Combine that with the company’s well-publicised financial limitations and it was forced to out-smart rather than out-spend. 

What’s new

A major part of the new dual-channel strategy included renaming, repackaging and relaunching C4 as a new “pure entertainment” proposition. The strategy was developed collaboratively in a series of workshops facilitated by the strategic planners of MediaWorks’ creative and media agencies, alongside the chief executive and representatives from marketing, ad sales, programming, creative, digital and publicity. 

It was a complex, large and very challenging marketing task that spanned business strategy, brand creation and the development of an entire on- and off-air personality that had to be expressed through all touchpoints, from how the channel looked and sounded, to how programmes were advertised. 

Appropriately, four specific objectives were set: increase advertising revenue by 20 percent on the previous year; stimulate 10 percent growth in peak viewership in the 18-49 core demographic; change the channel’s audience combination from a young male skew to a more balanced mainstream profile, including a greater proportion of Household Shoppers with Kids; and attract new, more mainstream advertisers. 

The launch was in many ways a repackaging and rebranding exercise. While new shows like America’s Next Top Model, Top Chef and all new The Simpsons were scheduled at launch, nearly two thirds of the old C4 content remained, so there was huge pressure to deliver a powerful launch to highlight the changes, excite viewers and attract them to the new channel—and to keep building audiences through ongoing marketing. 


To build a brand with momentum, novelty and edginess, MediaWorks realised it had to fuel interest with a series of attention-grabbing initiatives—and that it would have to break few eggs to make this particular omelette because not everyone was going to like the cut of the channel’s rather cheeky jib.

The vision for Four was “to be famous for our infamous entertainment”. And this mantra drove every aspect of the brand launch, from the playful channel identity, on-air graphics and promotion, brand advertising, programme advertising and trade communications. 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-B5GJF_FwkTo build intrigue and get the public and the media talking about the launch, Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman was commissioned to create a huge 40-foot high yellow inflatable rubber duck. It was entirely unbranded to whip up media speculation and generate word of mouth via social media and it was launched into the Viaduct on Auckland Anniversary Day.

The launch campaign, which has been widely recognised in industry awards, including the Best design awards and D&AD, was a truly collaborative effort. And the duck became a giant attention magnet, generating the equivalent of $485,600 in positive editorial coverage on TV and in newspapers alone. 

The channel’s big reveal was made via national full-page press ads on launch day, with billboards rolled out nationwide following that. The whole story of the duck was captured on film, and then used as 30” TVCs, and 15’/10”/ 5” channel idents. 

A wide range of creative executions—TV, billboard, digital, radio and ambient—then followed, all bound together by the creative line “Feels like Four”. And its positioning around not taking itself too seriously was built and maintained through a series of campaigns that drove strong audience growth, such as becoming the ‘Home of Not Rugby’ during RWC 2011 (this bold move paid off, as it was the only non-RWC channel to enjoy audience growth during the cup).

It also announced it was New Zealand’s most “liked” channel when its Facebook fan total exceeded 100,000, which was more than that of TV One, TV2, TV3, and new TVNZ youth channel U combined. And its campaign to promote the 500th episode of The Simpsons led to the channel’s highest rating night ever.


Four was named Media Brand of the Year at the 2012 CAANZ Media Awards, after the judges decided it had made the biggest impact on the New Zealand media landscape over the past 12 months. And fair enough too. 

The channel’s primetime audience grew by 51 percent; revenue for the first year increased by 41 percent, more than double the business objective; share increased by a sustained average of 22 percent year-on-year, more than double the launch objective; against the overall audience growth of 22 percent, women grew 24 percent and the Household Shopper with Kids demographic grew by 39 percent; and big, new, more mainstream advertisers that were previously deterred by an engrained perception of C4 as a youth music channel were a major reason for Four’s rising revenue. 

Transforming C4 into a dynamic and more commercially viable mainstream brand was a big undertaking, but it paid off. Four has quickly established itself as the fourth biggest free to air channel, ahead of Prime, and its success was a truly collaborative, marketing-led initiative, one that has directly created major—and, in rather difficult times for the company, very welcome—business growth for MediaWorks.

Award: Utilities/Communications

Winner: Mediaworks TV

Partners: Special Group, Spark PHD

Judge’s comment: “It wasn’t one thing about the entry that made it win.Marketing at the end of the day is about joining up all of the disparate elements of a business and I think this entry scored purely because of its holistic approach. Sure, it did some amazing brand engagement initiatives, but it was really looking at the problem from every aspect of marketing in today’s world and it’s a text book case study on how to reposition a brand.Not one big thing, but a whole host of different attributes all being delivered professionally and rigorously.”

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